Frontier women have always amazed me, making me feel guilty for my pampered lifestyle. While they toiled all day to care for their families, I often spend fewer than a couple of hours finishing my chores.
This week, after steam-cleaning my kitchen floor, I grabbed my computer-generated shopping list and drove to the store four blocks away. When I returned an hour later, my dishwasher and washing machine had both finished their cycles, leaving me with a load of towels for the dryer and clean tableware. Dinner remained the one task required of me and it already bubbled in my crock-pot.
Compare that to the responsibilities I found in a book I’m reading called The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz. (Revell 2009) The story, set in Kentucke territory at the time of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), describes frontier life.
Rising at dawn the women stirred the embers of the previous day’s fire to make breakfast, which often consisted of mush. The spider, a cast iron frying pan which stood over the hearth, contained the day’s later meal, often a portion of beans and salt pork left to simmer. The floors were swept with a straw broom. With dishes washed, the dishwater was thrown on the garden. The women then harvested the vegetables, preparing them for winter use—stringing beans to dry, gathering nuts, or laying aside corn for animal feed. Evenings were spent sewing, repairing clothing, or making quilts to warm their families through winter. (A woman in her nineties hand-stitched the above pictured quilt, having learned the task at the early age of eight.)
While I consider a daily shower a necessity, those women waited for spring to bathe in the rivers. Without soap they used sand to cleanse their hair and wash their clothes. Supplies needed to restock their pantries filled a list they’d kept over winter, often sent with husbands when the men visited the fort to trade furs for provisions in the spring. I wonder if everything on the list made it home. Ladies—know what I’m saying?
In I Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) we are told, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Next time I’m tempted to complain about all I have to do, I’ll remember the women in this book and count my blessings. How about you?